Sometimes gardeners order things we don’t really know what are. We may see a plant in a catalog and think it sounds good, do a little research and decide that yes, we should try this one. Sometimes these ‘try’ plants work out, sometimes they don’t. Alabama snow-wreath Neviusia alabamensis is one which worked out extremely well for me. Well enough that I want more.
I originally ordered Alabama snow-wreath Neviusia alabamensis because I had read that it was an early pollinator favorite, could handle the shade of my woodland garden and was on the ‘Threatened’ list in my state and surrounding states. I couldn’t resist planting something that needed reestablishing. It’s like a siren song to me. So, I ordered it for a fall planting and in the ground my little 3 gallon lump of dormant twigs went.
Over the next spring and summer I fell in love with it. In early May, tiny feathery stamen flowers appeared bearing a light honey fragrance that was delicious. It did indeed attract an assortment of pollinators. The blooms were such a perfect white and delicate that it reminded me of something from an old fashioned garden. Blooms appeared slightly before the foliage, and when the leaves did appear later in the month, they were as dainty as the flowers. Light green and heart shaped, they looked perfect in my woodland home. While understated, every time I passed this shrub I loved it even more and it quickly became a favorite. It has that wispy, delicate appeal which is so magical in a garden.
Alabama snow-wreath Neviusia alabamensis is a small, deciduous shrub with open, arching branches. The branching will form a mound and can eventually grow into a small thicket. It is native to the southeast United States (USDA Plants Profile) and considered a ‘Threatened’ plant in Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia. Alabama snow wreath is said to be hardy from zones 9-4. I am in zone 7b where it has thrived for me, but if anyone has happened to grow it further north and can give some input on how it preforms, please tell us!
While it is reputed to prefer a moist, well drained soil, I have not found it to be picky. It has growing just fine in my dry pine woods under dappled shade. Alabama snow-wreath does prefer an acid pH. For me it has flowered well in a shady location but can still tolerate sun, making it perfect as an understory or border shrub. Height is 3′ – 6′ and the delicate twigs a light orange brown with exfoliating bark. While not a dense shrub as it ages it will form a tangle which will make a great nesting site for birds. It has no known pest or disease issues. Fall color is of no note but the winter shape is lovely.
Even though Alabama snow-wreath Neviusia alabamensis lacks ‘pop’ and will never be a WOW! plant in a garden, if you wish to grow something different, attract pollinators and also help a threatened species, give it a try. I do not have a lot of photos so please take a moment see Google Image Search for a better idea of the beauty of this shrub. I have never fertilized or pruned mine but simply let it grow on its own. It has proven to be as low maintenance and trouble free as they come. Alabama snow-wreath is not an easy plant to locate in the nursery trade however Nearly Natives Nursery does grow it and they will mail order. They are a reputable company and ship very healthy plants.
Alabama snow-wreath Neviusia alabamensis would be a lovely native plant alternative to spring flowering spireas such as Spiraea prunifolia Bridal Wreath or Popcorn.
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